He has great vision, explosiveness and strength — and when you’re a football player what else do you lack?
For Canyon Del Oro senior running back Ka’Deem Carey, that’s just about all he needs. But you can include a tremendous will to win and a knack for getting things – victories? – done. CDO, 11-0 and No. 1 in Class 4A-I, has won 25 straight games and faces Apollo on Friday night in the second round of the state playoffs.
It appears the only thing that could stop Carey is, well, Carey, the four-star Dorado standout running back who was sidelined for “team violations’’ nearly more than a month ago. CDO still marched on, but the message has been sent: get your act together, or there will be no act.
Carey got the message, running wild in his return for more than 300 yards since. He’s also tacked on nine TDs. For the season, he’s racked up 1,246 yards and 20 TDs.
The suspension came just days after CDO coach Justin Peace said, “I’ve coached some kids who are very talented, but Ka’Deem is very coachable. That’s the great thing. … and he is respectful. I love him to death and he’s all about team.’’
Lapses in judgment happen. Carey must also realize you don’t make impressions on the sidelines, either. As we all know, he’s committed to the University of Arizona next year and reputations carry over.
So now that that is over, how much of an impression Carey made? Well, when he was on the sidelines in a recent CDO win, there was a young kid who stood about two feet away from the star, unable to take his eyes off of Carey as though he’d fly away and save a life or something. Oddly, a couple of star-struck adults had that same look.
Some athletes have that appeal. Carey is one.
He’s also a reason why CDO, the defending 4A-I state champions, is undefeated this season and the team to beat again this year. The fact that Carey missed a couple of games earlier in the season (due to injury and the suspension) shows that even without Arizona’s best running back, CDO is a force behind quarterback Jason McBrayer & Co.
No Carey? No problem, but the Dorados sure as heck will need him when it gets tougher deeper in the playoffs.
Every piece works, and it doesn’t hurt that McBrayer’s hunt-and-peck throwing arm has helped the Dorados have one of the best one-two punches in the state on offense.
“Oh, yeah,’’ said Peace, “(the combo) is good. You saw that Jason can throw the ball, but we run and either of those two kids can score at any point. That’s the great thing in having them.’’
What coach would complain? Via the air or the ground, CDO is formidable. And, it’s moving right along. But it’s also more than the one-two combo. Blake Martinez has helped in the pass-catching department and adds another dynamic. And then there’s what every good football team needs – strength up front.
“I feel pretty good about our offense, and defensively we’re trying to find our niche,’’ Peace said. “We’ve been dominant up front (offensively) and that’s our strength. And then, anytime you put No. 25 (Carey) back there, well, …’’
Well, nothing. It’s more like: “my-oh-my!’’
Carey runs with a fluidness and grace not seen since the days of Michael Bates, the former Amphi High standout turned UA star. Peace has heard the comparison, although he doesn’t go there, in part because he was a mere 5 or 6 years old when Bates ran past opponents in becoming a must-have prospect. Carey probably surpasses the hype of local slippery-yet-tough-as-sparkplug runners David Adams (Arizona) and Jon Volpe (Stanford). Each was stars in the 1980s – just as Bates was. It’s been that long since Tucson has seen such a player.
“He has great vision and that is the one of the keys to being a good back, but the most important thing is he is not scared,’’ Adams said. “When you aren’t scared you want the ball all the time because you believe you can make it happen.’’
Still, there is work to do. Volpe knows all about that and offers this advice: “The harder you work today, the easier life will be later. I see too many young high school and college players that don’t prepare and make the necessary sacrifices during their four to eight years of high school and college, and end up getting bad grades or suspended for making bad choices by choosing to goof off and party versus hitting the books, hitting the weight room.’’